How is water being valued in our Borneo expedition?

7th April 2016

In Borneo we take a holistic approach to tackling water and sanitation issues through projects that value beneficiary input right from the start. Our projects’ aims are to balance activities such as awareness raising and training with infrastructure to maximise their impact.

After World Water Day on 22nd March we caught up with some of our Venturers from a selection of our projects who had been reflecting on the significance of water on their project sites.

Alis Joscelyne and Meg Paul Taylor:

Venturer – Alis
Venturer - Megan
Venturer – Megan







Water for adventure trekking phase

“On trek you have to collect water for the day, every day. The water collected has to be sufficient for everything; from drinking water and water for washing hands to water for preparing food and washing dishes. On trek you really appreciate the importance of having access to water and how we automatically use purification tablets to make it safe to drink. Completing trek has made me more aware of the impact that restricted access to clean and safe water can have. It really opens your eyes to how some remote communities here live”.

Water on WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene) project Village Lingkabungan

“Lingkabungan is a tiny village up in the mountains in the north of Sabah. When we arrived we were all taken aback by the size of the village. We had been told there were about 20 buildings, however this didn’t really prepare us for how small and compact it is. From where we were staying at one of the houses in the village you can see the whole community.

Venturers conducting baseline surveys

The Raleigh project groups for this expedition have gone around the whole village carrying out baseline surveys. These baseline surveys are questionnaires that we ask villagers to understand what their situation is concerning water and hygiene. The baseline surveys really highlight the importance of the work we’re doing. The survey found that most of the houses do not have toilets. The villagers generally go outside. The project here for 16A has already completed re-piping the village as well as building some toilet blocks.

At home we take toilets completely for granted. The baseline survey found that some didn’t view toilets as a priority but as the village is now becoming more established most of the villagers are really keen and are involved in building the new toilets with us.

The involvement and help of the villagers has been really positive. Now with their help, we’ve given every house access to their own tap. This is a huge achievement as before over half the village said it wasn’t easy to get enough drinking water for their families.
Our work here has been really amazing for the community. Everyone in the village seems excited and are eager to help us”.


Joy Tilbrook 

 Environmental Phase – Danum Valley
Joy’s group took on a World Water Day challenge. In recognition that out of the world’s population 13% live on less than 2 litres of water a day which includes water for drinking, cleaning, washing and cooking. The group attempted to do the same (not including drinking water) to give them a small insight into what life would be like if they did not have unlimited access to clean safe water.

“Water is a vital part of life on project phases. At our environmental site in Danum Valley water is crucial from using it for concreting the suspension bridge we are building, to maintaining a healthy environment, to protecting the biodiversity of the rainforest. We also all have our personal washing and cooking needs. We knew World Water Day would be a challenge.

Volunteers at work in Danum Valley

What struck us most was the planning involved in simply deciding how we would distribute the water. Preparation began the night before as we sat down for our group meeting. Tensions arose about whether we could have hot drinks and thinking of a cup of tea or instant coffee as a luxury was hard to get ours heads around.

Team morale was put to the test in the morning as someone sleepily forgot about the challenge and flushed the toilet instead of using our freshly dug long- drop wasting several litres of our precious water allocation.

The day was successful and we managed to stick to our allocation as a group. It struck us all how much not having access to water affected our choices. Having access to clean and safe water is so vital and days like World Water Day are so important in raising this awareness. This was a novel experience for us but left us thinking about the harsh truth that limited water is a reality every day for so many”.

water gravel
Venturers gravelling on project site









Looking Ahead

7th & 8th April – Alpha 6 & 7 resupply
9th April – Alpha 5 visit
14th April – Alpha 1 and 2 visits
Remember you can contact anyone on 16A expedition here 

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Youth In Civil Society Malaysian Borneo